Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Fire breaks out on Pemex offshore platform in Gulf of Mexico

A large fire broke out on an offshore Pemex platform in the Cantarell oil field in the Bay of Campeche early Friday morning, injuring six workers. 

A press release by the  state-owned oil company said that an explosion on the Nohoch-Alfa joining platform caused the blaze, which spread to a compression platform. More than 300 workers were evacuated.

President Lopez Obrador of Mexico
President Lopez Obrador told reporters at his daily press conference that firefighting teams had responded quickly to the fire, caused by an explosion. (Presidencia)

No deaths have been reported, although a small number of people have been reported to have suffered injuries in the fire. 

Five boats arrived at the scene to control the fire. President López Obrador confirmed the explosion, saying it “is already being attended to” and expressed his support for the families of the victims.  

“There are firefighters from Pemex, the navy,” he said during his morning press conference on Friday. “[The fire] broke out off the coasts of Tabasco and Campeche at dawn.” 

While he reported that three or four workers were missing, his spokesman Jesús Ramírez later said they have now been accounted for.

Deer Park Refinery owned by Pemex in Texas
The fire comes at a time when Pemex is at the forefront of government plans to ensure energy independence, which has sparked controversy given Pemex being US $105B in debt and yet outlaying capital for purchases like the Deer Park refinery in Texas, for US $600M. (Pemex Deer Park/Facebook)

An anonymous Pemex source who spoke to Reuters said oil production will be unaffected by the accident. Still, the incident comes at a bad time for the company, which is under pressure to boost production after years of losses. It currently has US $105 billion in debt as of September 2022. 

The Mexican oil company has also faced a series of safety scandals in recent years. In February, three fires at three separate facilities broke out on the same day. In 2021, a ruptured underwater gas pipeline killed five people. 

Cantarell produces oil from one of Mexico’s largest fields. While the platform was once one of Pemex’s most productive, it has since seen production decline to an average of 170,000 barrels per day. 

With reports from Reuters and Milenio

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